Cheryl Ann Whalen's boyfriend stabbed her to death March 24, 2007, inside their Port Deposit home while their toddler son was in the next room. She was 42.
Ross Michael Jones was gunned down April 3, 2005, by three intruders inside his parents' Chesapeake City home. He was 22.
Randi Inez Taylor and her two friends were killed on April 17, 2008, when a drug-addled motorist ran a red light near North East at 93 mph and crashed into their car. She was 19.
While these three incidents are unrelated, the victims' survivors share this common bond: Their loved ones lost their lives at the hands of others.
"When you meet someone who has lived through such a tragedy, it's like meeting a family member. There is an instantaneous connection for them and for you," said 53-year-old Lynn Jones, mother of the late Ross Michael Jones. "No one else could know how it feels."
Jones could meet several local "family members" today when she visits the Crime Victims Memorial Wall and Walk in front of the Cecil County Circuit Courthouse.
A temporary wall bearing the names of 51 Cecil County people who were killed by others will stand in the courthouse courtyard on Main Street in Elkton.
Signs bearing the victims' names also will line the sidewalk.
Sponsored by the Cecil County State's Attorney's Office, the wall and walk are part of the local observation of National Crime Victim Rights Week. The observation will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the public is welcome.
"I think this shows people that just because their loved ones were taken, they haven't been forgotten. Someone cared enough to pay tribute to their lives," said Valda Rotolo, victim/witness coordinator in the state's attorney's office.
Anita Halsey, 48, of Charlestown, is looking forward to today's observation.
Halsey is the older sister of Cheryl Ann Whalen, who would be 45. She cares for her late sister's 6-year-old son, who was 2 when his mother was murdered.
He was in the next room when Whalen's 25-year-old boyfriend plunged three knives 20 times into her, marking the last argument of their stormy five-year relationship.
"It's bizarre that you want to remember that horrible, terrible day. It's not like you don't think about it every day of the year. But when you're among people who also have lost loved ones to violence, you don't feel so alone," Halsey said.
Halsey served 24 years in the U.S. Army before retiring as a major in October 2008, she said, adding that her late sister also served in the Army.
"It's so people don't forget," Halsey said of today's observation. "When you visit the Vietnam War (memorial) wall, you say, ‘Oh, my God, look at all the people who lost their lives fighting for our country.' When you visit the crime victims wall, you say, ‘Oh, my God, what a crazy, awful world this is.'"
Today will be the first time that Julie Frazier, 42, of Oxford, Pa., has taken part in the annual observation.
Frazier is the mother of the late Randi Inez Taylor, a 2007 Rising Sun High School graduate who lived in Colora.
Taylor and her two 18-year-old friends, Christopher Ryan Lepore of Perryville and Evan James Weichert of Port Deposit, were killed instantly when a 46-year-old Aberdeen man T-boned their Mitsubishi Eclipse with his Jeep Grand Cherokee at Red Toad Road and eastbound Route 40.
The man had popped six prescription painkillers and a dose of methadone about 90 minutes before he ran the red light.
"I hit the floor with my knees and rolled right over," Frazier said, recalling her reaction when she learned her middle child was killed. "Not a day goes by that I don't think about my little girl and how I lost her. It hasn't gotten any easier; it's only gotten harder."
Frazier hopes to gain "comfort and support" by attending today.
"Randi comes to me in dreams sometimes, like she came back to life. But the dream always ends with her saying, ‘Mommy, I have to go,'" Frazier said. "I always wake up crying."
Lynn Jones has visited several crime victim memorials over the years, she said. Jones will take part again today and expects to bond with other survivors.
Jones and her husband, Dan, still live in the house where three intruders beat their son and fatally shot him in the head.
They murdered him because he reportedly was in a love triangle with one of his assailants and a young woman.
"I'm highly sensitive now. I don't watch the first 10 minutes of TV news because it has all the murders. Look at all the crime dramas on TV, all the murder mystery novels. Murder is viewed as entertainment, and it desensitizes people," Jones said. "You see things differently when you've lived through it."
Halsey and Frazier said they, too, avoid crime-related television shows, books and movies.
The three women have something else in common. Each experienced only minor comfort when those responsible for killing their loved ones were convicted and sentenced.
The five people who robbed Jones, Halsey and Frazier of their loved ones are serving prison terms ranging from 25 to 50 years.
"It doesn't bring your loved one back," Frazier said.